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The privilege of being neuroqueer

I have, for some time now, discussed neuroqueer theory (as conceptualised by Nick Walker and her colleagues), adding my own takes to the emerging liberatory thoughts of a blossoming post-normal era. I consider myself neuroqueer. Not only because of the relationship between my queerness and my neurodivergence, but also because of the relationship between my Self and normative society.

In my book A Treatise on Chaos, I discuss what I have conceptualised as “the Chaotic Self”. Rooted in the idea that all things tend towards chaos, ever changing, unable to unexperience the events that form our sense of Self. I consider how I have neuroqueered my way to this understanding of myself. What I don’t discuss in that book (although I do discuss in The New Normal) is that I was only able to gain this understanding of who I am through privilege.

Privilege doesn’t necessarily refer to the presence of a benefit. More specifically, it is the lack of obstacles and barriers. I suspect this is why so many people struggle to see their own privilege. Much like the Dunning-Kruger effect, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t realise the advantage of a clear path through life if you have never had to take stock of obstacles.

I have queered my neurology in a number of ways. One of those ways was the use of mind-altering drugs. I have no doubt that my privilege is what allowed me to do this with no legal repercussions. I also did not have to deal with abusive family and had a safe home away from those who would exploit my journey of Self discovery. I had fewer obstacles to my journey of understanding and growth than those with less privilege.

Neuroqueering requires an element of authenticity in one’s embodiment of Self. It’s necessary to manifest your truth through action, but what if doing so could place you in danger? For BIPOC or other marginalised groups, authenticity can be life-threatening. Authentic embodiment of a marginalised identity is often criminalised or pathologised. Both can land you in prisons or institutions, in some places, it can be met with violence.

Those of us proudly flying the neuroqueer banner need to realise something important. Neuroqueerness is not an individual endeavour. It requires societal evolution. To be neuroqueer requires us to use our authentic embodiment of Self to drive a change that makes a post-normal society safe for all of us. Neuroqueerness that is only accesible to the few is not true neuroqueerness. To be neuroqueer is to fight for the liberation of all humans.

As we move toward a world where normative violence is unacceptable, we need to be prepared for the pushback. Those who benefit from normativity and oppression will not support the redistribution of power. For those with less privilege, this fight could be deadly. As we liberate ourselves, we must make sure to liberate those for whom the barriers to freedom are greater.

I am neuroqueer, and I will fight for your eight to be neuroqueer too.

The infinite and I: Exploring my Neuroqueer Self

Of recent, I have been somewhat hyperfocused on how people understand their own identity, and our individual sense of Self. I have discussed in my book The New Normal how the Self is socially constructed from our interactions with others and our wider environment. I think, however, it’s time to really zoom in (or perhaps, out?) on what the Self really is to me.

If being multiply neurodivergent has taught me anything, it’s that the variation of the human mind that exist are as numerous as the people on earth, but what of the Self? How many variations of me are possible?

First it is necessary to consider how my Self came into existence. It was constructed and scaffolded, not just by the people in my immediate environment, but by the conditioning that I have been exposed to in wider society. Society has given me structures based on false binaries, which I have had to deconstruct.

What has become clear to me is that I can become whoever I want to be. The Self is not a fixed point, it is a fluid and moving substance, more akin to a liquid than a solid. The Self that I am now, is not who I was 10 years ago, and is not who I will be 10 years from now. All things change, including me.

In that sense, each human life represents infinite possibility. Each person that exists has unlimited potential. By inflicting normative violence and attempting to mould another to who we believe they should be is to perpetuate trauma. We have to recognise that each time we hold something to be “normal”, we are likely projecting a piece of our own trauma onto another.

Conformity and assimilation has been weilded under names such as “unity” by those in power; but the true unity is in the radical queerness of subverting the social construction of reality. All things in human knowledge are socially constructed to some degree, we have a responsibility to constantly question what we hold to be true. There are infinite variations on the truth because the normative version of truth is in fact a mistruth.

We have been told that who we are, how we think, and how we express ourselves, needs to be in line with a collective truth. This is untrue, we are physical manifestations of infinite possibility. The oppressive structures of colonialism and normative culture rely on us forgetting that. Of course, because how do you control a population that knows it’s own endless possibility?

So, how do I understand my Self?

I am whatever I want to be, I am an ever changing and flowing river of possibility. Like any flowing substance, I calve a path through the landscape. That is why I have to be responsible with the course I take through life. It is not my right to cut through others and their landscape. I must calve through the oppressive structures of my own landscape, while elevating the voices of those for whom the landscape and structures are different.

We are multitude of drops forming an ocean, and we owe it to each other to create the tidal wave that washes the old world away.

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